Actress dies after falling whilst skiing

Actress dies following ski accident.

Hollywood actress Natasha Richardson has been fatally injured in a skiing accident in Canada.

Natasha, 45, the wife of actor Liam Neeson was holidaying at the luxury resort of Mont Tremblant. The actress was with her two teenage sons, Michael, 13, and Daniel, 17. She was in a beginner’s class on the slopes when she fell and knocked her head. Fellow skiers said that she got up immediately, laughing at herself and refused any first aid. Natasha had earlier turn down the offer of a safety helmet.

A spokesman for the resort said: “Miss Richardson was taking a skiing lesson in a small group with a private instructor when she fell over. She immediately got up and laughed about it. A ski patrol, with individuals trained in first aid, came over and asked if she needed treatment or wanted a doctor. She refused. The instructor then escorted her back to her room and remained with her for over an hour. Miss Richardson then said she was suffering from headaches and decided to go to hospital.”

She was taken to nearby Centre Hospitalier Laurentien in Quebec for emergency treatment before being transferred to Montréal’s Sacre Coeur hospital. The actress later slipped into a coma and was pronounced brain dead, being kept alive by life-support machines. Her mother Vanessa Redgrave and sister Joely Richardson, both themselves celebrated actresses were at her bedside along with her husband Liam.

The family turned off the life-support machine on 18th March as doctors advised she would not regain consciousness. Alan Nierob, the family’s publicist, said: “Liam Neeson, his sons, and the entire family are shocked and devastated by the tragic death of their beloved Natasha. They are profoundly grateful for the support, love and prayers of everyone, and ask for privacy during this very difficult time.”

The New York medical examiner’s office said Natasha, died of epidural haematoma caused by a blunt impact to the head. Doctors said she might have survived had she received immediate medical attention.

Peter McCabe, chief executive of Headway UK, the Brain Injury Association said about the accident and warns about brain injuries: “Cases like this remind us how crucial it is to wear a helmet if you go skiing. You don’t need to collide with a tree at 50mph to sustain a serious injury; it can be caused by a relatively minor fall. The skull is incredibly thin especially at the back and side of the head. It is all we have to protect the brain, which has the consistency of blancmange. When your head collides with an object, the brain can be damaged on impact, but it can also bounce against the side and develop bleeding, bruising, and swelling over the next few hours. The swelling has nowhere to escape to and presses down on the brain causing further, and potentially fatal, damage. If you have a fall and bash your head, please don’t assume all is well. It is better to get it checked. If a member of my family hurt their head I would take them to A&E just to be sure. Missing a few hours of fun is a price worth paying. I’ve seen so many instances of the damage brain injuries can do. If you lose consciousness at any time then go to the hospital and insist on getting scans. Headaches, vomiting, drowsiness, and dilation of the pupils are other serious warning signs. A good facility will scan the brain. If there are any signs of a build of pressure the neuroscientists can open the brain and give the swelling somewhere to go. It is possible to make a full recovery from a brain injury but time is crucial.”

The tragedy has heightened the debate over skiing safety and raised the argument for wearing safety helmets. It is currently not compulsory to wear a helmet when skiing or snowboarding, but safety campaigners are calling for it to be made mandatory for everyone at all resorts. In total, 29 skiers and snowboarders have died in ski accidents this season.

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